Sealed With a Vow

22-year old Claire Delaney's life turns upside down following the death of her beloved father, Mark Delaney, who happens to be the CEO of Delaney Corp.- one of the most successful hotel chains worldwide. She thought things would go back to the way they were once her older brother took over the business...but unfortunately that wasn't the case. Mark's last dying wish? Marry off his daughter to the owner of Weston Hotel Group, in order to maintain the partnership between both thriving companies and prevent any competition. Can Claire possibly seek love in an arranged marriage, or will she be forced to spend the rest of her days with a total stranger? Read to find out.

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26. Chapter 26- Homecoming

I was standing outside Derek's study, awkwardly shuffling my feet as I played with the zipper of my sweatshirt. I could hear him talking on the phone, and so I waited to open the door.

 

It was a Friday morning, and he'd decided to stay home to get some of his work done. I, on the other hand, was about to leave for a seven-hour road trip to Palo Alto.

 

Tomorrow was the Stanford Homecoming football game against Ohio State University. Both Charlotte and I would be attending it, along with Elliot and a couple of his friends as well.

 

I doubted we'd even win, though, because let's face it, the Buckeyes were amazing. I remembered when they won the College Football Championship last year. But who knew, we might get lucky tomorrow and end up defeating them.

 

Unfortunately, Derek couldn't come with me because he had to work this entire weekend. Now that construction was nearing completion for the new hotel over in Sydney, his company had been busier than ever.

 

When I didn't hear him talking anymore, I opened the door and headed towards his desk just as he was getting up. His face brightened, and he gave me a playful grin.

 

"You sure look happy to leave."

 

"Aww, Derek, you know I didn't want you to be home alone all weekend," I said, pinching his cheek.

 

"I seriously have to sleep in that huge bed all by myself?" He pretended to pout.

 

"You'll be fine. You're a big boy. " I smiled.

 

"Eh, that's debatable."

 

I laughed. Despite his tall, overpowering frame, he still acted like such a kid sometimes. There were days I'd honestly forget that he was my husband.

 

For example, just two days ago, I'd been baking cupcakes for a fundraiser of his at work, and he would sneak in a lick or two of the spoon no matter how many times I'd told him not to.

 

It was extremely annoying. Besides, I was sure none of his employees wanted his saliva in their cupcakes. But nonetheless, he was such a sweetheart.

 

"Oh, and before I go, I have just one quick question."

 

"What is it?", Derek asked.

 

"Umm...well, you remember when we drove your BMW to La Jolla?"

 

"Yeah?" He raised a brow.

 

"It's totally up to you, but I was just w-wondering if....uh." I was stuttering and hesitantly looked up at my husband, who had an amused expression on his face.

 

"You wanna drive my i8?"

 

"Yes!", I replied eagerly, beaming like a six-year old before quickly adding, "If you let me, of course."

 

"How good of a driver are you?"

 

"Pretty good," I said with confidence. He rubbed the back of his neck, contemplating his decision.

 

"I'm perfectly fine with letting you drive it to Stanford. I just don't want you to get in an accident or something like that. You know how fast that thing goes."

 

He went to go grab the keys and I followed him, mentally doing a somersault as I fought to hide the excitement that was bursting inside of me.

 

When we were both standing in the garage, he gave me a stern look. My small suitcase was next to me and I double-checked to make sure that I had everything.

 

"You sure you can drive this thing?", he asked in a serious tone.

 

"Positive," I assured him. I was about to reach for the keys from his hand, but he snatched them away from my grasp.

 

"And one more thing. Please be careful. It's my baby, and I don't want to see anything happen to it or my wife."

 

I couldn't help the dumb smile that formed on my lips.

 

"And what about your other three babies?"

 

"I love them, too. But the i8 is my favorite. " He grinned and pulled me into his chest, snaking his arms around my waist.

 

"Don't worry, I'm not a wild driver."

 

"I know. But in bed you are," he mumbled huskily before capturing my lips in a kiss.

 

It felt like an eternity until we finally pulled away from each other, both struggling to catch our breaths. I went to put my suitcase into the trunk, and then Derek threw me the car keys.

 

"Have fun, Claire-Bear!", he called out as I was backing from the driveway.

 

"See you Sunday!" I blew him a kiss.

 

The first couple of minutes behind the wheel in Derek's BMW almost felt dreamlike. I'd always wanted to drive a fancy sports car my entire life, and now here I was, cruising down the freeway.

 

It was extremely easy to over speed in this thing. 90 mph felt like 60 mph, and so I had to be extra cautious.

 

When I picked up Charlotte at her house, she came rushing towards the car, squealing with excitement. Her boyfriend had already left for Stanford in a different car with his friends.

 

"Oh my god, did you win the lottery or something?", she exclaimed as she set her suitcase in the trunk on top of mine.

 

"No, it's Derek's," I said with a laugh.

 

"Damn, he's loaded. But hey, what can I say? A sexy guy needs a sexy car, right?"

 

We both started giggling like idiots.

 

The first thing I noticed when Charlotte got inside the car was the sparkly diamond ring on her left hand. She saw me looking at it and then a huge smile spread on her face.

 

"Elliot proposed to me yesterday."

 

"Oh my gosh, Char, congrats!"

 

I gave my best friend a giant bear hug and couldn't help the tears of joy that were escaping my eyes. It felt like yesterday when we first met back in college, and now here we were, one of us already married while the other was newly engaged.

 

My, how time flies.

 

"Will you be my maid of honor at the wedding?", she asked.

 

"Of course, Mrs. Soon-to-be Corbin," I replied with a smile.

 

A half hour later, we pulled onto scenic Highway 101 that ran from Southern California all the way up to Washington, speeding past beaches and valleys.

 

This was gonna be one fun weekend.

 

***

 

As we approached the football stadium, which was entirely packed in a sea of red and white, I began to feel the familiar rush of adrenaline and excitement I always had before a game.

 

Everyone was sporting their Stanford apparel, with the exception of two or three guys that were Buckeyes fans. I zipped up my black North Face puffer vest that I wore over a Stanford crew neck, shoving my hands deep into the pockets as a chilly breeze blew through the trees.

 

Unlike San Diego- which was always warm and sunny- up here in Palo Alto, it was much colder and cloudy most days. The temperatures weren't necessarily low, it was mainly just the winds.

 

"Have you heard of Seth Johnsen?", Matt, one of Elliot's friends, asked me.

 

"Isn't he one of our linebackers?" I remembered seeing him at a few of the college parties Charlotte and I had attended in the past.

 

"Yeah. He's got a record of having the most sacks in the Pac-12."

 

"Wow, that's impressive," I commented.

 

There were six of us total right now- me, Charlotte and Elliot, Matt, Blake, and Paige. Charlotte and I were staying at Paige's apartment for the weekend located just three minutes off-campus.

 

The three of us had been close friends in college. Paige majored in pharmacy and was currently studying to get her Doctor's degree.

 

I honestly missed being in college, but I loved the life I had right now with Derek. Soon, I'd be working too, so that was something else to look forward to.

 

After the pre-game festivities finished, everyone settled down and got ready for the first quarter. We got to kickoff first and my eyes scanned the field for number 12, Seth Johnsen.

 

Ohio State's offensive line was incredible and managed to score two touchdowns in a span of just three minutes. Indeed Matt was right, for it hadn't even been halftime yet and Johnsen already managed to sack Ohio's quarterback three times.

 

When a bad call was made against us by the official, Matt and several other guys stood up, swearing and punching their fists in the air. This game wasn't going too well for us. Hopefully, the last two quarters would be in our favor.

 

During halftime, I headed down to the concession area to grab a soda. While waiting in line, I heard the sound of a cough behind me and turned around.

 

"Delaney, is that you?"

 

It was none other than Grant Easton- the most popular football player back when I was in college. He always threw the biggest parties and even had a crush on me. But I only saw him as a friend.

 

"It's Weston now. Not Delaney," I said with a smile. His jaw fell to the ground.

 

"You're married?"

 

"Yup. And you remember Charlotte? She's engaged."

 

"Wow, and I'm still stuck in college," he said with a lopsided grin.

 

"Why aren't you playing?"

 

"I tore my ACL," he replied with a heavy sigh, pointing down at the walking brace he was currently using for his left leg.

 

"Ouch, that sucks."

 

"I know right. Well, hey I'm having a frat party tonight so you and Char should come over. Bring Elliot too and whoever else you want to. It'll be fun."

 

"Sounds good." I smiled.

 

I told Charlotte about Grant's party when I got back to my seat, and she was more than willing to go. We managed to tie the Buckeyes 21-21 by the end of the third quarter. It wasn't until the last two minutes of the game when we finally managed to intercept the ball and score the winning touchdown.

 

Everyone stood up and cheered, and the football players stormed the field as red and white confetti filled the air. We waited awhile for the crowd to leave before heading down to the players' bench.

 

Seth was doing an interview with ESPN and when he finished, we ran over to congratulate him. His green eyes were lit up with pure joy and he couldn't stop smiling. I had a feeling he'd be playing in the NFL pretty soon.

 

That night, we were all gathered at the frat house for Grant's party. I managed to catch up with a few old friends that were still in college. Before we could get any alcohol in our systems, a bunch of people asked to try out Derek's BMW.

 

Since I didn't trust any of them driving it, I just offered to drive around anyone that wanted to join me. The whole night, girls kept asking me how I managed to marry a guy as well-known and wealthy as Derek and all I would say was, "I met him one day when I was visiting San Diego and we fell in love."

 

I completely made it up, but I didn't want them to know the truth.

 

Around one in the morning, I decided that it was time to leave. First of all, it was late. Second, there were drunk guys and girls passed out all over the floor. And last, my ear drums were aching from the music Grant had blasted through the speakers.

 

I'd had a few drinks myself and just wanted to go back to Paige's and sleep. Elliot and his friends had decided to stay here overnight since none of them were sober enough to drive.

 

"Come on, let's go," I said to Charlotte.

 

"You sure you can drive?"

 

"I feel a bit light-headed, but it's fine. Trust me, no cop will pull us over. I mean, Paige only lives three minutes from here."

 

"Wow, for once you're the 'rebel' one." She gave me a proud smile.

 

"Oh, shut up. I'm not a rebel."

 

"Whatever you say."

 

After grabbing our purses, we thanked Grant for having us over. He reeked of alcohol and looked completely worn out. His torn ACL obviously hadn't gotten in the way of him having a good time.

 

When we got in the car, I started the engine and barely even made it out of the driveway when I heard a loud "boom" and felt myself suddenly jerk forward from the impact of something hitting the rear.

 

"SHIT!"

 

I began to panic and muttered a million curses to myself as I quickly turned off the engine and ran outside. Charlotte followed close behind.

 

There was a noticeable dent on the left side by the brake light where the car had hit the mailbox.

 

"You hit a mailbox?!", Charlotte exclaimed.

 

"I swear, I did not see it through the rearview mirrors!", I protested. It was true. I saw everything else but that mailbox. It'd been obstructed from my view.

 

"Oh."

 

"God, I'm so dead," I muttered under my breath.

 

I began pacing the driveway like a man chicken, thinking about how doomed I was. And as crazy as it sounded, I was even planning a list of people I'd invite to my own funeral when Charlotte grabbed my arm, holding me still.

 

"Hey, this wasn't your fault. It's pitch dark out, and you're tired," she said in a calming tone.

 

"It is my fault."

 

"Claire, we can deal with this tomorrow. Let's get back to Paige's now. And don't worry, I'll talk to Derek about it, too."

 

Despite how hard I tried to use Charlotte's words as a source of comfort, I just couldn't. During the short drive to Paige's, my bottom lip began to tremble, and I had to force myself not to cry in front of my best friend.

 

Derek and I were doing so well but after this incident, he was probably never going to talk to me ever again. I didn't blame him. He'd trusted me with his most prized possession, and I'd damaged it.

 

At that moment, I just wanted to disappear into thin air and wished that this had never happened. Because I was not ready to face my husband tomorrow when I got home.

 

He was going to kill me.

 

 

A/N- Yikes, this isn't looking so good for Claire. How do you guys think Derek will handle the situation? On a different note, I've actually visited Stanford before, so it was fun writing this chapter. I'm also a fan of college football myself. And if you haven't already, go check out the 50 Shades soundtrack. I don't plan on seeing the movie, but trust me, the soundtrack is AMAZING- definitely the best one out there. Lastly, remember to like and comment!​

 

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